Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Americans like Obama, but not as leader: survey

AP, WASHINGTON

At the five-year mark in his term, less than one-third of Americans consider US President Barack Obama to be an above-average chief executive, while nearly twice as many find him likable, an Associated Press-GfK Poll found.

The results showed that Obama’s personal image seems to be recovering after taking a hit during the temporary partial government shutdown last year, with 58 percent of respondents sizing him up as very or somewhat likable — up 9 percentage points from October last year, after the shutdown.

Yet, Americans seem largely pessimistic about the US’ direction, down on the condition of its economy and doubtful that it will bounce back anytime soon. When asked about unemployment, 70 percent of those polled said it will go higher or stay the same.

Obama “wasn’t a total disappointment,” said Joshua Parker, a 37-year-old small businessman in Tennessee. “He didn’t put us into a Great Depression.”

Yet Parker suspects that someone who understood the economy better could have done more.

Democrat Sabrina Carag, a 58-year-old retired accountant, gives the president higher marks on performance and personality.

The former Republican reasoned that if things are not great in the country, it is the fault of her old party and the Republicans in the US Congress.

“They block him every step of the way,” Carag said. “I don’t think it’s fair for them to say he’s been a bad president. How can you do anything if your hands are tied?”

On the cusp of his sixth year in office, Obama is far removed from those heady days before his first inauguration, when two-thirds of Americans predicted that he would be an outstanding or above-average president.

Now, 31 percent think he has been outstanding or above average, one-quarter size him up as average and 42 percent describe him as below average or poor.

The ranks of those who think he has been outstanding or above average edged down 6 points since after Obama’s re-election last year, reflecting a dip in how he is viewed by Democrats, particularly liberals.

Doubts about his decisiveness and honesty persist, with more than half of Americans polled saying they would not describe him as decisive or honest, while 52 percent do not find him inspiring.

Congress continues to take its own hits in the polls too, with just 14 percent of Americans polled approve of the way legislators are handling the job, while more than nine in 10 Republicans say they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

It is the first time that this has happened in AP-GfK polling since Republicans took control of the US House of Representatives after the 2010 elections.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted between Jan. 17 and Tuesday using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the US population.

It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus-3.9 percentage points.

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